WESTBROOK—Blaze Michaela Russell led her girls in walloping visiting Edward Little on Wednesday evening, May 29: Russell put up five of Westbrook’s dozen goals in the 12-6 triumph.
Russell also led the team’s shooting, recording eight. Meanwhile, Katie Champagne and Kaitlyn Talbot put up a hat trick (three goals) apiece, each while hashing five shots. Alexis Witham scored one goal on one shot.
“Mostly everyone [had a good game],” Talbot, a junior Captain, said. “But K. K. Russell, Katie Champagne, Alexis Witham, Rylee Troiano on d – a bunch of those people did really well today. I’m just in awe of what they did.”
The Blazes jumped out looking strong to start — especially on defense, where they deployed a new formation. “We came out defensively running a fairly new scheme, and played it well,” Westbrook head coach Kevin Roy said.
“We have a new formation,” Talbot said of Westbrook’s d. “So that back person would help with the girl that has the ball. We wanted to make pressure so they wouldn’t drive as much.”
“Nos. 5 and 2 for EL are both strong,” Roy said. “They’re strong left and right. So we kind of knew they were going to be their primary shooters. But we got a good scout on them, so we knew what to look for. And they haven’t seen this defensive scheme from us. This is a higher-pressure defense, pressuring the ball – you want to make them uncomfortable with the ball.”
The Blazes found themselves up 10-3 at the break. They looked a little sleepier to start the second half, but woke up after Roy called timeout.
Asked about her girls’ offensive success, Talbot said: “We were able to – since they were doubling – have one cutter open. And when that cut was open, it just happened to go in.”
The Eddies eventually grew wise to Westbrook’s tack, and changed up their own defense to in response. Hence the Blazes managed just two more goals before the contest concluded. “They adjusted for sure, over the second half,” Talbot said.
“I’m never comfortable,” Roy said. “Even in the last minute or two, up six, seven, eight goes, I wasn’t comfortable. Because it’s such a game of momentum. And especially Nos. 5 and 2, if they get on a roll, can be tough.”
Roy took a moment to applaud Champagne in particular. “Katie’s been thrust into a new role both as a midfielder in general, and defensively, she’s kind of the key to that defense we ran today,” Roy said. “She’s phenomenal on the draw – she wins a majority of the draw controls for us. She’s really got a good technique.”
The win was Westbrook’s third of the year; they soon enough picked up another – 12-11 over Sanford (No. 8 in A South, 4-8). They also dropped a further bout, though, 16-3 vs. Biddeford (No. 4 in Class B, 10-2). The Blazes won’t make the postseason in 2019, as they finish 4-8 overall; that’s good enough for Class B’s 13th slot, but only the top 10 teams advance to the bracketing.
Still, Westbrook appears to gradually be on the upswing. This spring was better than last for them; last spring they won just two games. Hopefully their next go-round will bring still greater success.
Per Talbot, Westbrook enjoyed their season, grew closer together, learned and worked hard: “We’re a team,” she said. “We try our hardest. It’s not the best season, but we have fun with it, and we try just as hard as everyone else.”
Adam Birt can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME.
Kaitlyn Talbot drives upfield for the Blazes.
Michaela Russell harasses an EL opponent along the sideline.
Blue Blaze Alexis Witham dashes through the midfield, the ball on her stick.